February 16, 2011

Author Interview: LEIGH MICHAELS and a Giveaway

Today I am pleased to welcome Leigh Michaels, author of the newly published The Mistress' House, a self-described "racy" yet romantic historical tale centering around a property and the people in it, to Psychotic State Book Reviews. She has most kindly answered some questions about her new book, inspirations and writing those love scenes!

Hi Leigh! Welcome to Psychotic State! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers.

LM: Thanks for the warm welcome! I’m pleased to be here today. 

I just finished The Mistress’ House and really enjoyed not only the historical aspects of the story but also the three stories that all tied in to the one house. What gave you the basis for the story?

LM: I started writing what I thought was a short story where Anne asks Thorne to ruin her – and then I thought, “But how and where are they going to have enough privacy?”, so that’s when the idea of the house came to me. What’s the point of being a rich and powerful earl if you can’t have a private spot to tryst with a mistress? When I finished that first story, my critique partner said it was sad that the house was going to be empty, and that led to the other stories.

How do you get most of your novels’ ideas? Are you inspired by true events or dreams or do they just pop into your head?

LM: I start with a problem – a main character is facing a situation or a challenge which will change his or her life. Then I figure out who would be most affected by that problem, and who would be the worst person for that character to fall in love with. Occasionally I’ll use real events, but by the time they appear in a book they bear very little resemblance to what really happened.

You are a prolific author with nearly 100 books to your credit. How do you keep each story fresh and new?

LM: I put a lot of faith in my characters to act in new and different ways, doing things that are right for them and unique to their story. I don’t plot much ahead of time, so the characters aren’t constrained by my views. That helps each story develop in a direction that’s exciting for me – so I hope it’s exciting for readers too.

You have historical romances, contemporary romances and nonfiction books under your belt. Which genre is the easiest for you to write and which is the most difficult?

LM: Each genre has its challenges. Historical is difficult because of the details – getting them all right and making the story plausible. Non-fiction is difficult because every statement has to be backed up with evidence – no making it up as we go along. Contemporary is difficult because today’s society has fewer limits on behavior, which cuts out a lot of really good story possibilities. I enjoy each one, but none of them are easy.

Who was your favorite character in The Mistress’ House and why?

LM: Georgiana, because she surprised me. She was supposed to be this demure little damsel, only Georgie didn’t get the memo and if she had, she’d have stamped her foot and ignored it and done what she wanted anyway. She made me laugh.

The romance genre used to be reserved for women – female writers and female readers. However, it has become a lot more mainstream, with men not only reading the books but writing them as well. Why do you think these books have moved away from being just “bodice rippers” and acceptable literary forms?

LM:The romance has matured, and readers demand more from their books – deeper characterization, more action, bigger situations and problems – so the line has blurred between romance and other fiction. Publishers have helped by marketing to a wider audience, with titles that a male reader can say without blushing, and cover art that doesn’tinvite comments from strangers on the subway – though there’s still a long way to go in both areas!

The Mistress’ House has quite a few erotic scenes. Are those difficult to write?

LM: Oh, yes. I came to sensual historicals from a background of writing sweet traditional contemporaries, so you can’t get much further apart on the spectrum. I always have to take at least two runs at a love scene to get it right – and sometimes much more. It helps to have my critique partner egging me on and telling me that she wants more details. :)

As a writing instructor and author of books on the craft of writing, what advice would you say is the most important to give to a struggling writer?

LM: You learn to write by writing. Reading about how to write, reading in the field you want to write in, taking classes – all can be very helpful. But you don’t learn to play tennis by watching Wimbledon or reading Sports Illustrated. So put the butt in the chair and write. Then do it again. The more you write, the better your writing will get. I see a lot of talented writers, but the ones who succeed are the ones who are both talented and persistent.

Do you have time to read yourself? If so, what authors do you enjoy reading?

LM: Not as much as I’d like. I read mysteries to relax (Margaret Maron is a favorite), and I read a lot of non-fiction for research.

What is a normal day in the life of Leigh Michaels like?

LM:I start my day by checking email and looking in on the classes I teach in romance writing for Gotham Writers’ Workshop (http://www.writingclasses.com/) and then I open up my current book and read what I wrote the day before. Once that’s neatened up to my satisfaction, I’m in the groove and I write for a few hours. The farther I am into a story, the more time I spend writing. (It’s kind of like getting a train out of the station – it takes a lot of fuel and effort to get a story moving at first, but once it’s started, it takes on energy and speed and I’m just running alongside trying to keep up.) Because I try never to quit for the day at the end of a scene or a chapter, I spend the last few minutes of a writing session working on a very rough draft of what comes next. Then the next day I have something to expand on and polish, which gets me back into the story and the voice.

Can you tell us what project(s) you’re working on now?

LM: I’m taking a bit of a break after finishing three historicals in 18 months. I love writing triple stories (three heroes, three heroines, three conflicts), and I’m working out a couple more in my head, getting ready to write one or both of them.

If you could be any one of your novels’ characters for one day, who would it be and why?

LM: Lady Stone, the gossipy old lady who’s always on the sidelines being amused by all the ins and outs of the social comedy, and who occasionally pulls a string to make things happen. (As well as playing a part in the three stories in The Mistress’ House, she also appears in my upcoming historical releases Just One Season in London, July, and The Wedding Affair, September).

And lastly, if you could use one word to describe The Mistress’ House, what would it be?

LM: Really, you’re going to limit an author to just one word? :) My editor says the book is sexy. My agent says it’s sensual. I say it’s racy.

Thank you so much, Leigh, for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck to you with The Mistress’ House and your future projects!


Three beautifully intertwined love stories…

The rules are made to be broken…

When the handsome, rakish Earl of Hawthorne buys the charming house across the back garden from his town home, he never expects the lovely lady he installs there to ensnare him completely…


After Lady Keighley marries the earl, it seems a shame to leave the house empty, so she offers it to her childhood friend Felicity Mercer, who discovers that the earl’s gorgeous cousin is precisely the man she’s been waiting for…

and again…

Finally, feisty Georgiana Baxter moves into the house to escape an arranged marriage, and encounters the earl’s friend Major Julian Hampton late one night in the back garden. The handsome soldier is more than willing to give her the lessons she asks for…

There is plenty of gossip, scandal, and torrid speculations surrounding the “mistress’ house”, but behind closed doors, passions blaze…


Leigh Michaels is the author of nearly 100 books, including 80 contemporary novels and more than a dozen non-fiction books. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published by Harlequin. A 6 time RITA finalist, she has also received two Reviewer's Choice awards from Romantic Times, and was the 2003 recipient of the Johnson Brigham Award. She is the author of On Writing Romance, published by Writers Digest Books. Leigh also teaches romance writing on the Internet at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Ottumwa, Iowa. For more information, please visit http://www.leighmichaels.com/.


Thanks to the lovely Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks, I have not one but TWO copies of Leigh Michaels' The Mistress' House to give away! This is a fun, romantic and very sensual/sexy/racy book and if you're a fan of romance, you won't be disappointed. 

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know if you prefer historical or contemporary romances and if you like your preferred genre with sugar or spice when it comes to those love scenes. 

(To answer the question myself, and here comes my legal background, it depends.  Sounds like a cop out but I have found that I enjoy certain historical romances as well as contemporary ones and it's all dependent on how they are written and how the story is told.  The same goes with the love scenes.  If they are not gratuitous and merely there for titillation, and they flow well with the story, bring on the spice.)

U.S. and Canada only (my apologies to our overseas friends) and no P.O. boxes.


Contest to end on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 11:59 P.M. PST and the lucky winners drawn by randomizer.org on Thursday, March 3, 2011. 

Good luck!


debbie said...

I like very accurate historical romances with lots of spice in them.

mrsshukra said...

Favorite genre: historical romances with medium to hot spice level!

Leigh Michaels said...

Debbie, thanks for stopping by! It's sometimes hard to know if a historical is completely accurate because some of the basic everyday information is hard to find -- but authors try to get things right.

Martha Lawson said...

I like historicals and contemporaries equally! I like my romances spicy.

follow on gfc

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

throuthehaze said...

I prefer historical romance with some spice :)
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Thank you for the amazing opportunity<3

I am a very big fan of historical Romance<3


Leigh Michaels said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by! I hope you'll enjoy reading The Mistress' House as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Anita Yancey said...

I usually perfer contemporary romances, but I also like historical romances, and I like them both with spice. Please enter me. Thanks!


loveangel132 said...

Great give away, thank you! I prefer Historical with lots of spice in them.


D.A. said...

I like more contemporary romances with lots of spice!
dawhittemore22 at gmail dot com

Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

I love the answer to the one word that describes the book. That answer alone makes me want to read it ;)

I found you from book blogs.


valerie2350 said...

valerie2350 at hotmail dot com

Joann said...

I would love to win, I sent for some swag!!

skyla11377 said...

I prefer historical romances and when it comes to those love scenes sugar is nice but spice makes it oh so right.